Is it possible that the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show won't be happening this year... at all? According to supermodel Shanina Shaik, the high-profile event hasn't just been pulled from network TV, as was reported in May, but it's been canceled altogether.
"Unfortunately the Victoria's Secret show won't be happening this year," Shaik told The Daily Telegraph, via The Daily Mail. "It's something I'm not used to because every year around this time I'm training like an angel. But I'm sure in the future something will happen, which I'm pretty sure about. I'm sure they're trying to work on branding and new ways to do the show because it's the best show in the world."
The comments come after a turbulent year for the mega-retailer: In May, Leslie Wexner, the chief executive of Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands, told The New York Times that the brand "must evolve and change to grow" and that they "don't believe network television is the right fit" for the annual show anymore. This marks a big change for the fashion show, which has graced TV screens every year since 1995 — and has withstood a barrage of criticism for its narrow casting decisions and limited, almost impossible standard of beauty.
Such criticisms were bolstered by a November 2018 interview L Brands' chief marketing officer, Ed Razek gave with Vogue prior to last year's show. When asked why Victoria's Secret hasn't made moves to showcase more diverse models, he said: "It's like, why doesn't your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should," utilizing an outdated term for transgender people in addition to proselytizing an exclusionary decision. "Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader."
Razek's transphobic comments caused a social media firestorm — one that had thousands of people boycotting by not tuning in at all. According to EW, the 2018 show plummeted to its lowest ratings ever, with only 3.3 million viewers, down from 2017's 5 million viewers, which were the show's lowest. Inevitably, Razek tried to backtrack on his comments, telling Elle, "My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We've had transgender models come to castings ... And like many others, they didn't make it ... But it was never about gender. Honestly, I really hope that a transgender model will make the show soon. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are."
MTV News has reached out to both Shanina Shaik and Victoria's Secret for comment.